Euro 2012 moves a huge step
closer on Friday when the draw for the finals is held at Kiev's
Palace of the Arts with Ukraine tournament director Markiyan
Lubkivskyi promising his country is ready to surprise the world.
The road from Cardiff on April 18, 2007, when UEFA awarded
the finals to co-hosts Ukraine and Poland, has been a long and
Michel Platini, president of European football's ruling body
UEFA, issued an ultimatum to Ukraine as recently as March last
year, saying: "If the stadium in Kiev is not finished then we
will not go there and if there is no Kiev there is no Ukraine".
The stadium in Kiev, and others in Lviv, Donetsk and
Kharkiv, are all ready now, as well as all four Polish venues in
Warsaw, Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk, and everything is set for
the gala draw.
In an interview with Reuters TV, Lubkivskyi said: "I am
absolutely confident we will surprise - with our hospitality
and organisation - the whole world, European visitors and first
of all we will surprise ourselves".
Sixteen teams will be drawn into four groups of four with
champions Spain, Netherlands, Poland and Ukraine the top seeds.
The second pot comprises Germany, Italy, England and Russia.
Pot three consists of Croatia, Greece, Portugal and Sweden with
Denmark, France, Ireland and Czech Republic in the final
Lubkivskyi said Ukraine had gone through many obstacles to
make sure the draw went ahead as planned in the capital.
"Our task was a double task or even a triple task. We had to
overcome a lot of problems in terms of infrastructure,
development, roads construction," he explained.
Some problems still remained, said Lubkivskyi, including a
lack of hotels in Donetsk.
"This [tournament] project is not a sports project, for me
it is mostly a geo-political one," he added. "For me, post the
Euros, Ukraine will meet a lot of European criteria."
The competition begins in Warsaw on June 8 with the final in
Kiev on July 1.
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